The PJ Tatler

O'Malley Proposal: Raise Handgun Age to 21

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley released a “bold, progressive” gun control plan today that would raise the national age for buying or possessing a handgun to 21.

Currently, states set minimum ages on the purchase or possession of handguns or long guns, though federal law prohibits handgun possession under age 18 and sales from federally licensed dealers under age 21. Adults can buy guns as gifts for underage users. Federal law doesn’t set a minimum age for shotgun or rifle possession.

Citing statistics from 13 states that a quarter of gun crimes are committed by gunmen age 21 or younger, O’Malley’s camp said he’ll “work to set a federal minimum age of 21 for handgun ownership and possession.”

The gun-control plan also would require background checks for all sales including online and private sales, and would “require all individuals who seek to purchase or transfer any gun to obtain a fingerprint-based license, and complete safety training with a waiting period, in addition to passing a background check.”

Licensed gun dealers and law enforcement agencies would bear the responsibility of processing the new requirements.

He would also expand domestic-violence gun ownership laws to anyone convicted of stalking and domestic abusers who are not living with, married to, or have a child with the abuse victim. While gun sales are currently denied to those under permanent restraining order, O’Malley would extend a ban on possession or purchase of a firearm to temporary, emergency restraining orders as well.

O’Malley also vows to affect gun-manufacturing safety by “adjusting federal procurement policies.”

Using the leverage afforded by the government being the largest purchaser of firearms, the governor said he can “require manufacturers that seek federal contracts to make simple design changes that advance gun safety and improve law enforcement’s ability to trace firearms. These include hidden serial numbers that cannot be defaced, microstamping, magazine disconnect mechanisms, and other safety improvements.”

And, not surprisingly, he would also resurrect an assault-weapons ban — vaguely defined as “military-style assault weapons, including assault pistols and long guns” as well as “sale or distribution of large-capacity magazines and ‘cop killer’ ammunition.”

He introduced the plan at a Boys & Girls Club in New York City.

“For far too long, Democrats have been too afraid to stand up to the gun lobby. It’s time for that to change,” O’Malley wrote in a CNN op-ed. “…My comprehensive plan will not stop every senseless gun death. But it will ensure that fewer families are needlessly torn apart by gun violence.”

“Gun violence can be stopped,” he declared.